Everytime I see a new article on performance enhancing drugs, I wonder -- has no one read "The Juice?" (Answer: pretty close.) Forget reading my work, just do the homework.
The most recent example is worse since it's by Joe Strauss, a good writer and I'm told a good guy. His extended article on Albert Pujols and Chris Mihlfeld is an extended excuse. I do not know if Pujols has ever used performance enhancers . As with most players, I have no evidence. In pointing to the pictures of Pujols and Mike Sweeney, saying that these are two guys who "do things the right way," Mihlfeld loses credibility.
Why? Because if you'd asked him a month ago, I bet he would have said the same thing about Jason Grimsley. Grimsley's picture is down now, but he trained next to the other two. He did appearances for Mihlfeld's facility in suburban Kansas City. He touted Mihlfeld's help in coming back from Tommy John surgery. (Quick: If Mihlfeld's name isn't in the Grimsley affadavit, who's the trainer that Grimsley worked with? Does that mean this article bylined to Grimsley is a lie? Who ghost wrote it, Jason?)
Almost by definition, Pujols' assertion that "that's not what we stand for" is wrong. Grimsley stood with him, figuratively, until he was caught. Mihlfeld's assessment of Grimsley's character was wrong and this assumes that the trainer didn't know. Mihlfeld certainly wouldn't be guilty of a crime if he made a mistake, an error in judgement in assessing the people he worked with. We shouldn't make the same.
Is it possible that Mihlfeld's name is in the document but that he didn't make the amphetamine connection? Yes, it's possible. Faced down by IRS and FBI agents, we have no idea what Grimsley was saying. Grimsley apparently made an error in saying he started using steroids after his 2000 shoulder surgery -- because he didn't HAVE shoulder surgery then or at any other time. Is this Grimsley's error or IRS agent Novitzky's?
How does Mihlfeld know that "my name isn't in there"? He says that he spoke with Grimsley's attorney. I'm no lawyer, but a sealed affadavit isn't the type of thing that someone discusses with a non-client. Is Ed Novak now the attorney of record for Chris Mihlfeld? How about Mike Sweeney, who claims to have seen the names in the document ... or to know the names... or to know it's not Mihlfeld's name, depending on which account you read.
Pujols is now reportedly taking nothing. Okay, let's continue the tradition of checking lockers in St. Louis. What's in Albert's? Is he saying that he wouldn't use the supplements that have been blessed by MLB? Is he saying that he used supplements but now stopped? Okay, which ones? "Creotine [sic]" is named, but anything else? If we go back to 1998, did Pujols take supplements which were then not only not banned but not illegal? Could Pujols have taken androstendione, the supplement legally used by Mark McGwire in 1998? Did he use it in 2004 when it was still neither banned nor illegal?
Pujols request to be tested reeks of Barry Bonds' 2002 assertion that he would be willing to take a test. I contacted Bonds' agent and the Giants at that time, offering to pay for the test and to give the results only to Bonds and the team. According to "Game of Shadows," that would have been a really bad idea for Bonds. Bonds could make the assertion because he knew that the MLBPA would never, ever allow that to happen. The same is true here; the testing program is in place and outside of that, it would be a grievous day before the PA would allow extra testing.
We're left with more questions than answers, but no one seems to be asking the right questions. Do drugs make the users stupid or are we equally guilty in not demanding answers. Over and over, writers who missed the steroid usage of the nineties are saying that they'll ask those questions this time. Jeff Pearlman said in Slate that he'd ask it of anyone, doubting first. Joe Posnanski doesn't want to be a cynic and will trust.
Guys, there's a happy medium here. It's called information. I wouldn't walk up to Albert Pujols and hand him a cup. I'd ask about his workout program, his supplements and his maternal grandfather. I'd ask Sweeney that if he feels steroids are against his religion, why didn't he act against the colleague that offered him steroids?
I'd ask Chris Mihlfeld, a man who's commitment is described as "total" where it stops. How does a total commitment stop short of supplementation and even performance-enhancement, or is it mere semantics? I'd ask him who he worked with when he was with the Dodgers and the Royals.
Information is the power and currency of the information age. The question is if we have the intelligence and courage to ask the right questions.